While there are many types of incidents that can result in personal injury in Centerville, slip and fall accidents are among the most commonly misunderstood. Many people's perception of slip and fall accidents (also called "trip and fall accidents") is derived from television sitcoms that portray such accidents as minor events that result in few major injuries other than to one's ego. Tragically, slip and fall accidents often result in severe and even catastrophic injuries for many people every year in Centerville and throughout Georgia. Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of accident-related fatalities amongst senior citizens. More than 400,000 people a year suffer injuries in slip and fall accidents serious enough to require hospitalization and 17,000 more suffer fatal injuries according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Understanding Liability in Centerville Slip and Fall Claims
An accident victim who suffers a slip and fall in Centerville may have the right to assert a claim against a commercial property owner, residential property owner or even a public entity. Slip and fall cases typically turn on the particular facts of the case and require careful investigation to identify the nature of the hazardous condition, how long it was present on the premises, whether the property owner was aware of the hazard and other key factors that may affect a Centerville slip and fall claim.
Slip and fall accidents are governed by an area of law called "premises liability." Premises liability is the area of law that deals with the obligations of a property owner or the occupier of land to make their premises safe or warn visitors on the property of potential hazards. Injuries caused by dangerous conditions on the premises or property of another are one of the most common types of injuries suffered by accident victims. Some of the types of premises liability claims that our Centerville premises liability attorneys routinely handle include but are not limited to the following:
• Swimming pool drowning accidents
• Injuries caused by negligent security guards
• Amusement park accidents
• Faulty store displays or products that are stacked improperly
• Dog bites
• Fires and explosions
• Collapsing roofs
• Accidents on construction sites
• Gas explosions
• Injuries caused by lead paint poisoning
• Negligent security resulting in a violent crime
Effective pursuit of slip and fall accidents and other types of premises liability claims entails extensive investigation of the underlying facts and careful analysis of the often challenging issues of proving fault and the appropriate measure of damages. At Montlick and Associates, we know that slip and fall cases, as well as many other types of premises liability cases in Centerville, typically turn on very subtle distinctions in the facts and how those facts are presented. Our experienced Centerville slip and fall lawyers carefully analyze all of the facts in our client's case to develop the strongest litigation strategy and to prepare the most convincing presentation of our client's case.
Legal Theories That Govern Centerville Slip and Fall (Premises Liability) Cases
The applicable law in Georgia premises liability law depends significantly on a classification system that applies to both property owners and those that come on their premises. Because this classification system plays a substantial factor in determining the scope of a property owner's duty of care, we have explained this classification system below:
Invitee: An invitee traditionally is owed the highest duty of care by a property owner. Someone who is upon the property of another is typically classified as an invitee if the person is present for some purpose that is to the mutual benefit of both the property owner and the person who comes on the property. An invitee has either express or implied consent to be on the property. If an invitee is on the premises, a property owner has an obligation to take reasonable care to make the premises safe. Common examples might include:
• Shoppers at a grocery store
• Those conducting business at the county courthouse or city hall
• Diners in a restaurant
• Handyman in your home to do a repair
• Members of a civic organization attending a function at the organization's lodge
Licensee: Licensees are generally on the property for their own purposes rather than for the benefit of both parties. Common examples would include those that are on the premises for social visits or a salesman. A property owner or occupier was required to warn a licensee of any dangerous conditions on the property that would not be patently obvious to those that came on the property. Generally, there is no requirement to make the condition safe unless it was part of an active operation on the property.
Trespassers: Someone who comes on another's property without permission is owed the lowest duty of care. There are exceptions where trespassers are entitled to a more extensive duty, such as children who are injured by an "attractive nuisance" like a swimming pool. This theory is based on the idea that children may not have the maturity and experience to fully appreciate the danger posed by certain types of conditions on a property or that are likely to appeal to them or to make them curious. It is foreseeable that this type of hazard might injure a child. If a premises owner or occupier also knows that trespassers frequently come upon his or her property, this also can make potential injury foreseeable and create a duty toward a trespasser.
Someone who owns a restaurant or grocery store has not only the obligation to warn and make safe conditions that will foreseeably cause injury to patrons, but also to conduct reasonable inspections to identify foreseeable hazards, such as spilled liquids, products that are stacked unsafely and other reasonably foreseeable hazards that could cause injury to someone on the property.
Intensive Investigation of Centerville Slip and Fall Accidents
The reason premises liability lawsuits, including slip and fall cases, are challenging to litigate is that they turn on the specific facts of the underlying case. This means that our Centerville premises liability lawyers conduct effective investigations and inspections in our clients' cases to establish that it was predictable that our client would be injured. Some of the critical evidence that we typically use in establishing fault in a slip and fall case includes the following:
• Employee observations
• Adequacy of lighting
• Evidence of prior accident reports related to the dangerous condition
• Footage from security cameras both inside and outside the facility
• Prior accident reports or emergency response calls to the premises
• The duration between the time the condition was created and the injury occurred
• Any attempts to construct barriers or restrict access to where the dangerous condition was located
• Reports from public entities involving safety inspections
Although this is all only a small sampling of the type of evidence that we routinely use in a premises liability case, including a slip and fall, these examples demonstrate the critical role that thorough investigation and persuasive use of the facts play in successful slip and fall accident claims. If you or someone you love has suffered a serious personal injury or a loved one has died, our experienced Centerville premises liability lawyers are committed to representing personal injury and wrongful death victims in obtaining compensation to rebuild their lives and support their families.
Call now for your FREE CONSULTATION with Montlick and Associates' experienced Centerville slip and fall attorneys. Our attorneys are available to help you and may even visit you if needed. You can call us anytime 24/7 at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) for your FREE CONSULTATION. Alternatively, you can visit our website, www.montlick.com, to make use of our FREE CASE EVALUATION FORM or 24-hour live online chat service.